Mental Health Summit 2014

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) teamed up with Discovery Health SA to present the Mental Health Summit 2014, which was held at Discovery on 4 November. The aim of the summit was to make people more aware of mental health issues as well as the importance of developing a much more comprehensive and coordinated approach to dealing with mental health concerns in the South African context.

Dr Maurice Goodman, from Discovery Health SA, was tasked with addressing the issue relating to value driven healthcare as well as how to achieve care coordination in the mental healthcare sector. He explained that within Discovery alone they have seen a drastic increase, about 41%, in the amount of spending they have needed to put forward to mental healthcare between 2008 and 2012, making the need for an integrated approach to this highly stigmatised issue a high priority. “By coming up with plans that will lead to an integrated approach aimed at care coordination we will be able to improve clinical outcomes, improve the overall quality of care as well as improve the sustainability of schemes,” Goodman said.

Mirroring the sentiments of Dr Goodman, Dr Frans Korb, a Johannesburg-based psychiatrist, believes that a lot more work needs to be done to banish the stigma surrounding mental illness around the world and encourage people to be open and seek professional help. “By 2030 we can expect to see depression become the top cause of all disease and disability around the world, if something is not done,” Korb said.

The bigger picture of mental health in South Africa, according to SADAG:

– Mental health in South Africa is the 3rd biggest contributor to the burden of disease

– 11% of all non-natural death in SA is due to suicide

– 43,7% of people living with HIV/AIDS also suffer from a mental illness

– About 6 million South Africans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Lack of adequate resources, according to SADAG, is the biggest issue relating to the proper management of mental health in South Africa. There are only 9,72 nurses, 0,4 social workers, 0,32 psychologists, 2,8 beds for in-patients and 0,27 psychiatrists per 100 000 of the population in South Africa.

If you, or a loved one, are suffering from a mental health disorder and need to speak to a professional at SADAG, head over to www.sadag.org.